Unheralded heroes of the Merchant Marine

Merchant mariners died at higher rates than members of any other armed service during WWII.

As the widow of a U.S. Merchant Marine veteran of World War II and the Korean War, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I read a Sun article claim Baltimore's observance of National Maritime Day "started seven years ago as a way of honoring merchant managers" (sic) ("National Maritime Day puts focus on port of Baltimore," May 17).

Don't any of your copy editors routinely check such outlandish statements? If not, may I suggest that a Google search of "National Maritime Day" be requisite reading.

National Maritime Day was established by Congress in 1933 to honor merchant mariners who have served this nation since its earliest days.

The Sun's coverage of the 70th anniversary of the Allied victory that ended WWII in Europe didn't mention a single word about the merchant mariners who died in greater numbers per capita than any of the armed forces who participated in that war.

In unarmed ships without escorts they supplied the materiel that made VE Day possible. Those who survived returned home thankless and received none of the postwar benefits that helped other participants in the war gain college educations and buy homes.

Instead of using National Maritime day to puff its chest — "The Port of Baltimore is the most important economic engine that we have ever had and will continue to have," said Sen. Barbara Mikulski, the keynote speaker — the port could have honored merchant mariners by asking those who benefit from the success of the port to get behind HR 563, the "World War II Merchant Mariners Act of 2015," introduced in Congress by Democratic Rep. Janice Hahn of California and GOP Rep. John Duncan of Tennessee.

Similar bills have languished in committee in previous years, even though influential Marylanders, including Ms. Mikulski, have co-sponsored the effort.

In a considerable miscarriage of justice, Congress in 2009 passed legislation giving Filipinos a one-time payment of $25,000 for their service in WWII — but without acting on legislation that would have provided the same amount to U.S. Merchant Marine veterans of that war.

This nation can do better, and I hope the Port of Baltimore learns that.

Doralee Simko, Woodstock

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
79°